Letter of Credit Fraud

by Rudolf Faix Friday, July 10, 2015 8:43 AM

Old Letter of CreditLegitimate letters of credit are never sold or offered as investments. They are issued by banks to ensure payment for goods shipped in connection with international trade. Payment on a letter of credit generally requires that the paying bank receive documentation certifying that the goods ordered have been shipped and are en route to their intended destination. Letters of credit frauds are often attempted against banks by providing false documentation to show that goods were shipped when, in fact, no goods or inferior goods were shipped.

Other letter of credit frauds occur when con artists offer a “letter of credit” or “bank guarantee” as an investment wherein the investor is promised huge interest rates on the order of 100 to 300 percent annually. Such investment “opportunities” simply do not exist. (See Prime Bank Notes for additional information.)

Tips for Avoiding Letter of Credit Fraud:

  • If an “opportunity” appears too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Do not invest in anything unless you understand the deal. Con artists rely on complex transactions and faulty logic to “explain” fraudulent investment schemes.

  • Do not invest or attempt to “purchase” a “letter of credit”. Such investments simply do not exist.

  • Be wary of any investment that offers the promise of extremely high yields.

  • Independently verify the terms of any investment that you intend to make, including the parties involved and the nature of the investment.

 

Prime Bank Note Fraud

by Rudolf Faix Friday, July 10, 2015 8:34 AM

Old Bank GuaranteeInternational fraud artists have invented an investment scheme that supposedly offers extremely high yields in a relatively short period of time. In this scheme, they claim to have access to "bank guarantees" that they can buy at a discount and sell at a premium. By reselling the "bank guarantees" several times, they claim to be able to produce exceptional returns on investment. For example, if $10 million worth of "bank guarantees" can be sold at a two percent profit on 10 separate occasions - or "traunches" - the seller would receive a 20 percent profit. Such a scheme is often referred to as a "roll program".

To make their schemes more enticing, con artists often refer to the "guarantees" as being issued by the world’s "prime banks", hence the term "prime bank guarantees". Other official sounding terms are also used, such as "prime bank notes" and "prime bank debentures". Legal documents associated with such schemes often require the victim to enter into non-disclosure and non-circumvention agreements, offer returns on investment in "a year and a day" and claim to use forms required by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). In fact, the ICC has issued a warning to all potential investors that no such investments exist.

The purpose of these frauds is generally to encourage the victim to send money to a foreign bank, where it is eventually transferred to an off-shore account in the control of the con artist. From there, the victim’s money is used for the perpetrator’s personal expenses or is laundered in an effort to make it disappear.

While foreign banks use instruments called "bank guarantees" in the same manner that U.S. banks use letters of credit to insure payment for goods in international trade, such bank guarantees are never traded or sold on any kind of market.

Tips for Avoiding Prime Bank Note Fraud:

  • Think before you invest in anything. Be wary of an investment in any scheme, referred to as a “roll program”, that offers unusually high yields by buying and selling anything issued by "prime banks".

  • As with any investment, perform due diligence. Independently verify the identity of the people involved, the veracity of the deal and the existence of the security in which you plan to invest.

  • Be wary of business deals that require non-disclosure or non-circumvention agreements that are designed to prevent you from independently verifying information about the investment.

 

Advance Fee Schemes

by Rudolf Faix Thursday, July 9, 2015 3:45 PM

Poster Work from Home - Free info PackageAdvance fee fraud gets its name from the fact that an investor is asked to pay a fee up front or in advance of receiving any proceeds, money, stock or warrants in order for the deal to go through.  The fee may be in the form of a commission, regulatory fee or tax, or some other incidental expense. These secondary "advance fee" schemes work very similarly to boiler room operations, the difference being that an advance fee scheme generally targets investors who already purchased underperforming securities, perhaps through an affiliated boiler room, offering to arrange a lucrative sale of those securities, but first requiring the payment of an “advance fee.”

With other words an advance fee scheme occurs when the victim pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value - such as a loan, contract, investment, or gift - and then receives little or nothing in return.

The variety of advance fee schemes is limited only by the imagination of the con artists who offer them. They may involve the sale of products or services, the offering of investments, lottery winnings, “found money,” or many other “opportunities.” Clever con artists will offer to find financing arrangements for their clients who pay a “finder’s fee” in advance. They require their clients to sign contracts in which they agree to pay the fee when they are introduced to the financing source. Victims often learn that they are ineligible for financing only after they have paid the “finder” according to the contract. Such agreements may be legal unless it can be shown that the “finder” never had the intention or the ability to provide financing for the victims.

Tips for Avoiding Advanced Fee Schemes

If the offer of an “opportunity” appears too good to be true, it probably is. Follow common business practice. For example, legitimate business is rarely conducted in cash on a street corner.

  • Know who you are dealing with. If you have not heard of a person or company that you intend to do business with, learn more about them. Depending on the amount of money that you plan on spending, you may want to visit the business location, check with the Better Business Bureau, or consult with your bank, an attorney, or the police.

  • Make sure you fully understand any business agreement that you enter into. If the terms are complex, have them reviewed by a competent attorney.

  • Be wary of businesses that operate out of post office boxes or mail drops and do not have a street address. Also be suspicious when dealing with persons who do not have a direct telephone line and who are never in when you call, but always return your call later.

  • Be wary of business deals that require you to sign nondisclosure or non-circumvention agreements that are designed to prevent you from independently verifying the bona fides of the people with whom you intend to do business. Con artists often use non-circumvention agreements to threaten their victims with civil suit if they report their losses to law enforcement.

 

Telemarketing Fraud

by Rudolf Faix Thursday, July 9, 2015 3:24 PM

black man with poster '100% risk free'When you send money to people you do not know personally or give personal or financial information to unknown callers, you increase your chances of becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud.

Every year, thousands of people lose money to telephone scams - from a few dollars to their life savings. Scammers will say anything to cheat people out of money. Some seem very friendly - calling you by your first name, making small talk, and asking about your family. They may claim to work for a company you trust, or they may send mail or place ads to convince you to call them.

If you get a call from someone you don’t know who is trying to sell you something you hadn’t planned to buy, say "No thanks." And, if they pressure you about giving up personal information - like your credit card or Social Security number - it’s likely a scam. Hang up and report it to the governemnt authorities.

Here are some warning signs of telemarketing fraud - what a caller may tell you:

  • “You must act ‘now’ or the offer won’t be good.”

  • "You've been specially selected (for this offer)."

  • “You’ve won a ‘free’ gift, vacation, or prize." But you have to pay for “postage and handling” or other charges.

  • "You trust me, right?"

  • "This investment is low risk and provides a higher return than you can get anywhere else."

  • “You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number, or have a check picked up by courier.” You may hear this before you have had a chance to consider the offer carefully.

  • “You don’t need to check out the company with anyone.” The callers say you do not need to speak to anyone including your family, lawyer, accountant, local Better Business Bureau, or consumer protection agency.

  • “You don’t need any written information about their company or their references.”

  • “You can’t afford to miss this ‘high-profit, no-risk’ offer.”

If you hear these or similar “lines” from a telephone salesperson, just say “no thank you” and hang up the telephone.

How They Hook You

Scammers use exaggerated - or even fake - prizes, products or services as bait. Some may call you, but others will use mail, texts, or ads to get you to call them for more details. Here are a few examples of “offers” you might get:

  • Travel Packages. “Free” or “low cost” vacations can end up cost­ing a bundle in hidden costs. Some of these vacations never take place, even after you’ve paid.

  • Credit and loans. Advance fee loans, payday loans, credit card protection and offers to lower your credit card interest rates are very popular schemes, especially during a down economy.

  • Sham or exaggerated business and investment opportunities. Promoters of these have made millions of dollars. Scammers rely on the fact that business and investing can be complicated and that most people don’t research the investment.

  • Charitable causes. Urgent requests for recent disaster relief efforts are especially common on the phone.

  • High-stakes foreign lotteries. These pitches are against the law, which prohibits the cross-border sale or purchase of lottery tickets by phone or mail. What’s more, you may never see a ticket.

  • Extended car warranties. Scammers find out what kind of car you drive, and when you bought it so they can urge you to buy overpriced - or worthless - plans.

  • “Free” trial offers. Some companies use free trials to sign you up for products - sometimes lots of products - which can cost you lots of money because they bill you every month until you cancel.

Tips for Avoiding Telemarketing Fraud

It’s very difficult to get your money back if you’ve been cheated over the telephone. Before you buy anything by telephone, remember:

  • Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company. Legitimate businesses understand that you want more information about their company and are happy to comply.

  • Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity. If you get brochures about costly investments, ask someone whose financial advice you trust to review them. But, unfortunately, beware-not everything written down is true.

  • Always check out unfamiliar companies with your local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, state attorney general, the National Fraud Information Center, or other watchdog groups. Unfortunately, not all bad businesses can be identified through these organizations.

  • Obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business. Some con artists give out false names, telephone numbers, addresses, and business license numbers. Verify the accuracy of these items.

  • Before you give money to a charity or make an investment, find out what percentage of the money is paid in commissions and what percentage actually goes to the charity or investment.

  • Before you send money, ask yourself a simple question. “What guarantee do I really have that this solicitor will use my money in the manner we agreed upon?”

  • Don’t pay in advance for services. Pay services only after they are delivered.

  • Be wary of companies that want to send a messenger to your home to pick up money, claiming it is part of their service to you. In reality, they are taking your money without leaving any trace of who they are or where they can be reached.

  • Always take your time making a decision. Legitimate companies won’t pressure you to make a snap decision.

  • Don’t pay for a “free prize.” If a caller tells you the payment is for taxes, he or she is violating federal law.

  • Before you receive your next sales pitch, decide what your limits are-the kinds of financial information you will and won’t give out on the telephone.

  • Be sure to talk over big investments offered by telephone salespeople with a trusted friend, family member, or financial advisor. It’s never rude to wait and think about an offer.

  • Never respond to an offer you don’t understand thoroughly.

  • Never send money or give out personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.

  • Be aware that your personal information is often brokered to telemarketers through third parties.

  • If you have been victimized once, be wary of persons who call offering to help you recover your losses for a fee paid in advance.

  • If you have information about a fraud, report it to state, local, or federal law enforcement agencies.

 

Ponzi Scheme

by Rudolf Faix Thursday, July 9, 2015 11:03 AM

Carlo "Charles" PonziIn turn of the century Boston, an Italian Immigrant named Carlo "Charles" Ponzi established the Securities Exchange Company. Ponzi offered investors a choice between a fifty percent return on a 45 day investment and a 100% return on a 90 day investment. Ponzi claimed that this return on investment was possible due to his unique understanding of the international postal reply coupon system; by international agreement, postal reply coupons were recognized by all countries but the cost of these coupons varied dramatically from country to country depending upon their economy.

Although true in principal (an IPRC that cost a penny in Germany cost a nickel in the US), Ponzi was fully aware that the scheme did not work in actual practice because of importation restrictions. Nevertheless, the story sounded good.

Ponzi schemes are fraudulent investment operations that work in a similar way to pyramid schemes. The Ponzi scheme usually entices new and well-to-do investors by offering higher returns than other investments in the form of short-term returns that are either abnormally high or unusually consistent. The schemer usually interacts with all the investors directly, often persuading most of the existing participants to reinvest their money, thereby minimizing the need to bring in new participants as a pyramid scheme will do.

With little or no legitimate earnings, Ponzi schemes require a consistent flow of money from new investors to continue. Ponzi schemes tend to collapse when it becomes difficult to recruit new investors or when a large number of investors ask to cash out.

Be cautious, but do not be discouraged from carefully researching business opportunities based on commissions. There are many legitimate multi-level marketing opportunities where you can legally earn an income from selling genuine products or services.

Protect yourself:

  • Pyramid and Ponzi schemes may be sent to you from family members and people you trust - they might not know that they could be illegal or that they are involved in a scam.

  • Never commit to anything at high - pressure meetings or seminars.

  • Don’t make any decisions without doing your homework - research the offer being made and seek independent advice before making a decision.

  • Do some research on all business opportunities that interest you.

  • If I am not selling a genuine product or service, is participation in this activity legal?

More information about Ponzi schemes:

 

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I'm since more then 35 years in the computer business (programming and technical support) and using the Internet since it has started. Since 2002 I'm programming solutions for Asterisk and since 2004 I'm in the call center industry.

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